Manchester United finally managed to grab a Premier League win against Swansea before the international break put all progress to an end and spread United’s talents around the world. Arsenal, on the other hand, is in great form, sitting very close to the top of the Premier League table without hitting top gear and earning some impressive victories along the way. With a United injury crisis and a couple more likely to come as players return from their home countries, this game could be a difficult one, and United will be dependent on key players if they are to stop Arsenal’s well-oiled side.
Francis Coquelin, Midfielder, Arsenal
One aspect of Manchester United’s play that has been consistently brilliant (barring when Marouane Fellaini is on the pitch) is midfield play, as United’s switch to 4-3-3 allowed the side to play fluid football and bring the best out of Paul Pogba. With Ander Herrera returning against suspension, and his incredible record against Arsenal, along with the incredible talent of Pogba and the experience of Michael Carrick, Francis Coquelin will likely be included in an effort to stifle Manchester United’s midfield threats. Coquelin is an incredibly limited player and can be exposed for it when the attacking threats around him are kept quiet, but he is also sturdy defensively and probably won’t break down. With Granit Xhaka beside him, Arsenal will be ready to go to Old Trafford and play to the style of their opponents.
Alexis Sanchez, Forward, Arsenal
Manchester United’s gaping, Eric Bailly-sized hole at the centre of defence could be well exposed on Saturday as Arsenal’s firing striker Alexis Sanchez travels to Old Trafford in sparkling form. Initially criticized for his perceived inability to play up front, Sanchez has since adjusted and become an incredibly fitting option for Arsenal to stretch their play, and he has eight goals and five assists in 13 starts from the position to show for it. Sanchez remains Arsenal’s greatest goal threat, and if the Gunners are to come out with a win, odds are he will be on the scoresheet.
Ander Herrera, Midfielder, Manchester United
With a massive emphasis on the midfield battle for Saturday’s clash, Ander Herrera will return from his international duty with Spain and his suspension after a suspicious red card that ruled him out for the Swansea game. Herrera has been United’s best player so far this season, in my opinion, at the heart of midfield, allowing the side to tick, advancing play and immensely winning the ball back for United. Finally, United fans are beginning to see the player that was purchased from Athletic Bilbao with the hope of changing the midfield. Averaging 3.1 tackles and 2.7 interceptions per game, Herrera has become an adept defensive operator for United without doubt, and his unlimited passing range in comparison to Coquelin could be a vital key for United.
Paul Pogba, Midfielder, Manchester United
This is more of a sentimental inclusion, because Paul Pogba must score against Arsenal. Of all fans who have been criticists of Pogba, Arsenal’s group have been the worst, presumably irked because their side has the financial resources to spend the kind of money and the pulling power to attract the type of player, but they do not. Pogba is almost a symbol of United’s remaining status above Arsenal due to their inability to do what United did with Pogba this summer.
Now, Pogba has the chance to prove he is better than the likes of Granit Xhaka and Francis Coquelin, though Arsenal fans will continue to deny it. Pogba’s wonder-strike against Swansea went ignored for the quality of the goal it was, because it was absolutely incredible but people still want to deny it. If Pogba can score for United in a win at Old Trafford, it will go a long way to reversing the psychological battle back to where it was three years ago.